If you’re paying someone to build your MVP then you’re probably launching too late.
You’re a non-technical founder, you’ve read The Lean Startup and been told countless times that you need to launch an MVP fast. But you can’t code, you’ve got no money, no co-founders— just bags of passion.
You’ve become super frustrated and staring at quotes of £5k, £10k, even up to £50k and also faced with losing some equity to get an MVP built.
Sound like you? Well here’s the thing.
Regardless of your technical ability if you’re paying someone to build an MVP for you then you’re probably launching too late.
(And this comes from me who’s launched absolutely nothing in 2 years) 🤦♂️
Seriously though, everything you need to launch right now, you can do yourself in no time at all and for less than the price of a carrier bag.
I wish I had realised this earlier.
There’s a tremendous amount of misguidance floating around the startup community and we as non-technical founders love to gobble it up.
We’re told our MVPs must be as automated as possible but not fully automated, house a nice codebase so that we don’t get stuck with technical debt as we scale and only contain a selection of features ‘we assume’ potential users might like.
We should also be tracking metrics on metrics on metrics, finding product-market-fit within 0.3 seconds and devise a scalable growth plan with viral loops or else we’re going to fail.
If you haven’t any traction or validation yet then the above is all completely irrelevant. It’s way too early to have a multi-dimensional focus.
I recently became super frustrated with all of this.
I’d consumed so much misguidance, I decided to go on a startup detox banning myself from engaging with tweets, posts, podcasts, meet-ups and all-round general bull 💩.
I stopped doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing to focus on why I do this.
I figured that it’s way too early to be fundraising, launching shiny products and figuring out how to grow consistently at 10% week on week.
I had spent 2 years preparing for pre-seed investment to fund my MVP.
I had created and scrapped numerous concepts, I was A/B testing pitch decks, financial models and even the language I was using in discussions all while spending a fortune on Virgin trains visiting the big smoke.
One evening just a couple of weeks back I got off the train at Manchester Piccadilly returning home from a day visit to London feeling kinda deflated.
It was then I realised that my time could be spent better, focussing on the things that really matter right now, like building a minimum viable experience (MVE).
What’s an MVE?
I’ve always felt the term MVP is misleading so I created the term MVE to give myself a more aligned focus throughout these super early stages.
I believe that we early stage founders shouldn’t be focussed on building a ‘product’ as such and instead focussed on creating an experience that brings joy to people.
Why’s this? The only metric we need to track right now is that our user journeys make people happy. Otherwise know as validation.
And it just so happens that you don’t even need a product (as such) to do this. Nothing even needs to be automated at first, it actually makes sense to keep things as manual as possible.
Joel Gascoigne, founder and CEO of Buffer did an amazing job with what he describes as their MVP. You can read about his story here but briefly, Buffer’s MVP consisted of just a landing page and a pricing page.
What Joel did with it was amazing. He intentionally launched with no product, instead opting for explaining their idea in just 3 sentences. He also placed a big shiny CTA next to those sentences which when clicked led to a pricing page.
Why was this so special?
Well, Joel not only validated that people had an itch that Buffer could scratch but also validated if and how much they were willing to pay for it.
Another example I can share is from Luke Massie, founder and CEO of Vibe . When I first met Luke he told me that Vibe’s MVP was so minimal there wasn’t even a landing page. Their MVP was a Twitter account.
Again Luke didn’t have any ‘real’ product but was able to create a joyful experience that people wanted to use, share with their friends and come back to use. Today Vibe has an army of fans and is even expanding into new territory.
There are plenty more examples of amazing businesses who started with something similar like AirBnB or Groupon - which started life as a simple blog and Dropbox who had nothing more but an explainer video.
These are all great examples of true validation and no use of fancy MVPs.
So how do we build our MVEs?
First of all, no matter how difficult it may seem right now to get your concept off the ground don’t be put off by it. You can 100% do this no matter how complex the barriers to entry may be.
Take your concept and simplify it, simplify it again and again and again until you’re left with the absolute bare bones, but just enough to build an experience that brings joy to early adopters.
Remember that during the simplification process you will have to pivot away from the all singing and dancing product you have in mind and remain focussed on creating an experience in it’s most minimal form.
I recently stumbled upon a guy named Juan Felipe Campos who created this google doc with links to 81+ tools that we non-technical founders can use to build and launch our concepts with no technical expertise required.
So what are you waiting for… 😉😉
I spent 2 years trying to fund an MVP that I didn’t even need and built what is needed within 2 days, all without writing a single line of code.
Don’t do what I’ve done, utilise the resources available and get started today.
✌ — Andy.